Travel Journal

Holy Toledo!

(Thursday 9 September 2010) by Mike and Julie's sort of round the world trip
Day 25 – 8/29/10 Toledo
We took a day trip out to the city of Toledo. On the way there we stopped at castle Almonacid de Toledo and I hiked up the hill to it. Pretty cool in that no one was there and that it was apparently mentioned in Don Quixote as a place he visited.
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At Toledo we visited the Alcazar, an old palace that followed the usual Spanish progression. It was a Roman Fort, then a Spaniard fort, then a Moor’s fort, then a Spaniard fort again. The fort was then turned into a museum of military history. I don’t think they charged us an entrance fee because it was a Sunday. Anyways, the usual no pictures inside – worth a visit though as it is English friendly and well laid out.
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We reversed our course passing the statue of Cervantes to visit the Museo de Santa Cruz which had several tapestries hanging and a nice courtyard with several statues and a section on ceramic pieces. After trying some of the local pastries, we visited the nearby Catedral de Toledo but passed on the entrance fee and admired the exterior. The old quarter is full of tiny alleys and staircases which leaves the Garmin less than useless as it will often give false directions thinking you’re one place when you’re actually another. We had to explore this burg old school. We popped into a monistary and visited the church. The Ingesia de Santo Tome gave Julie her El Greco fix with his Count of Orgaz painting.
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We headed back to Madrid and freshened up at the hotel before heading to a bullfight at the Plaza de Toros at 6:30. Seats in the shade were the obvious choice as the sun was still very hot. I got the 20 Euro seats rather than the cheapest 10 Euro seats. The seats were second row in front of where all the action occurred. Tickets go up to 100 Euro but I can’t imagine getting better seats than we had.
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There is a lot of ceremony involved although the fights last just 20 minutes or so. First multiple matadors begin tiring the bull by taunting it and then taking cover behind a safety board. Then a blindfolded, heavily padded horse enters and when the bull charges the horse it is stuck with a lance. Then the horses are withdrawn and matadors thrust small decorated spears in the bulls back. The by now tired and bleeding bull faces the featured matador who gracefully uses his cape and then when the bull is exhausted, thrusts a sword cleanly in the back down to the hilt and the bull quickly dies. That is what is suppose to happen.
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The first match had the horse knocked over and the rider pinned to the wall with all the other matadors waving their capes to get the bull to release the horse. Fortunately both the rider and horse were okay. Also most of the sword thrusts were badly aimed or not powerful enough which brought boos from the crowd as the bull had to suffer longer before its death. It was bloody, poetic, savage, calculating, graceful and brutal all at the same time. I am glad I got to experience it.
We headed back to the hotel to pack as tomorrow it was off to Barcelona!

 


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